Monday 29 June 2020

Tabletop hex grid and snakes and ladders campaign continues

I used to play many of my games using a 6 inch square grid on my 6 by 4 foot tabletop when I started this blog (hence the title blog). However, I have over the last 12-18 months been increasingly using free movement. Recently I have moved back to using a grid with my WW2 Western Desert campaign, which uses a hex grid and I am thoroughly enjoying. Over the last few weeks now I have been considering using hexes for my other games. 

Prompting my thinking was a number of posts by Old Trousers on using One-Hour Wargaming scenarios and Simplicity in Practice rules (both by Neil Thomas) and more recently posts from projects and Procrastination. Anyway, after re-reading chapter "Grids: Hexes and Squares" from The Portable Wargame by Bob Cordrey I decided it was timely to setup my tabletop to have a hex grid.

My first step was to determine a suitable hex size which would fit the unit basing and terrain. My paper soldier units have a frontage of 7 inches and most other periods have units with a 4 inch base frontage. Using a compass (probably last used for a school project) a few templates were drawn on paper to determine a suitable size. A few tests found the best size hex was 7.5 inches from one side to the opposite side. This is quite a large size, but has the advantage that they can easily accommodate my units and terrain.

Those of you who use hexes will note I have the unit facing a side rather than one of the angles which seems quite common. I may change this approach, for the present though the side approach suits my rules which don't differentiate between flank and rear attacks, treating them as all the same. I also have a personal preference to having a unit facing a side (not sure why).

My 42mm scaled paper soldier unit with an 8 inch base frontage

ECW unit with a 4 inch base frontage and plenty of room for terrain

On my 6 by 4 foot table top this size hex grid would give me a board of 5 to 6 hexes by 10 hexes. I did think this 5 to 6 hex width might be a tad small, but the more I thought about it the less convinced I am that it will be too small. I tend to think of the hexes as zones with units deciding to make clear advances into an adjacent zone, and too many zones unnecessarily delay contact with opposing units. I will know for sure over the next few weeks as I try out the grid.

With all that decided my next step was to make a template was made out of MDF and start marking out the tabletop cloth. Rather than draw the whole hex I chose to just mark out the hexes just at the corner, hopefully making the hex less obvious.

MDF template and brown pen to mark out the grid

Grid with only the hex corners marked

One of my existing hills which fits two hexes quite nicely when placed under the gaming cloth.

The hill placed under the gaming cloth (not very noticeable in the picture)

A 6x6 inch field fits nicely into the hex

I will be able to reuse most of my terrain without modification, but will have to cut some more blue felt for rivers which will run along the hex sides (and is why there are no photographs of rivers).

The first game to be tested was the next game in the Jacobite snakes and ladders campaign

Tabletop setup for a Jacobite campaign game

Having made the hex grid the next step is to try it out with the next Jacobite snakes and ladders campaign game. It took a few rolls of the dice before the next battle occurred. The campaign has the Jacobite cause well advanced compared to the Government forces who had been delayed by muddy roads, while a Jacobite victory saw them progress a number of squares along one of the green arrows.

Luck is a fickle thing and soon after their victory the Jacobite cause was suffering from desertions due to a lack of pay. Meanwhile, Government forces conducted a force march to avoid battle and seemed to have the upper hand only to be frustrated again by muddy roads delaying their supplies. Seizing the opportunity Jacobite forces were able to catch a column of Government troops on the march. 

Random dice produced One Hour-Wargames scenario 13 - escape. The Jacobite side having landed on a battle event square got to choose which scenario force they would act as (Blue or Red). They chose to be the attacking force which catch the opposition on the march.

Snakes and ladders campaign has 

Action from the game

The game using hexes was a victory to Jacobites. So did the hexes work? For the most part yes. I do need to make a few tweaks to the rules to suit the hex grid and am looking forward to replaying the game (although the last game result will stand for the campaign).

Wednesday 24 June 2020

War of the Spanish Succession project continues

Not much of a post this week as most of my free time has been absorbed with testing out some simple rules to use for my recently completed War of the Spanish Succession (WSS) units.

The rules themselves started out as a One-Hour Wargames (OHW) variant. Then veered towards something that looked a lot more like the Charge! elementary game as I wanted to have different mechanisms for musketry, artillery and mortars, and charges (melees). Having played through a few games I feel like the rules have reached a point which I an happy with (well for the present anyway). I now need to update the original rules I started with all the additional scribbles they have accumulated through play testing.
For the test games. Rather than just throwing some terrain on the tabletop with units aligned on either side of the table. I sourced a scenario from "Scenarios for Wargamers" by CS Grant - Positional Defence (1). Not having quite the same sized tabletop and number of units the scenario was scaled down.

Test game underway

Over the weekend I did manage to squeeze in some time to add a few commanders and mortars to the armies. I will be continuing with the WSS project in the next few weeks. My original goal was to have sufficient units for the OHW scenarios, with that achieved I have decided to increase the number of units for each army. Adding to each: 
  • one extra infantry bringing to 5 the total available, 
  • along with two extra cavalry units bringing a total of 4 available (along with the 2 existing dragoon units).

British commanders and along with a mortar and crew

French commanders and along with a mortar and crew

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Beginning the snakes and ladders campaign

I began my snakes and ladder Jacobite campaign last week and have fought the first battle of this abstract campaign. The distraction of completing the first phase of my War of the Spanish Succession project delayed the writing of this post. 

A quick reminder the objective of this campaign is to create a series of battles with the purpose of getting advantages for one final battle, and hopefully not more than a handful of battles will be generated. Other than the campaign board and some initial thoughts (see here) there is a bit of making this up as I go along.

Each time a force lands on a battle rectangle a random scenario is selected from the One-Hour Wargames book. The force landing on the rectangle is the attacking side in the scenario. If they win they advance along the green arrow taking them closer the end battle. The other force has nothing to gain, other than denying the advancement of the other force. Although I am thinking of changing this to allow some benefit in the last battle, for example, an additional commander for each victory by a defending force.

Government forces won began the game with a 4 and land on a square which provides them with supporters in the regions which speeds up their march.

The Jacobite cause gets off to a slow start with a 1.

The low score continues with Government forces scoring a 1.

A score of 3 sees supports flocking to the Jacobite cause.

The march of Government forces is delayed as muddy roads hold up their supplies.

As score of 5 sees Jacobite forces make the first aggressive move and the battle is setup. 

A random selection using a D3 for 10's and a D10 for 1's came up with a 1 and an 8 for scenario 18, counter attack, from One-Hour Wargames. There is no battle report for the game other than to say the Highlanders proved unstoppable as they charged forward and captured the bridge before a flanking force of Government troops could create any threat.

Game in action

The win will benefit the Jacobite forces who will advance 5 squares on the campaign board.

Sunday 14 June 2020

WW2 Western Desert campaign turn 5 game 2

Having successfully made advances in their last game with the 21st Panzer division. The Axis forces make their second attack with the 15th Panzer division against the Allied 1st Armoured division, a collection of armoured units.
Campaign Map

Closer view of the second attack by 15th Panzer Division

As usual the terrain was decided by the cards and the forces diced to see the impact of wear and tear, previous losses, and supply situation. For this battle only wear and tear was diced for by both sides, a score of 1 removes the unit from being involved in the action.

Terrain cards determine the initial layout. Both the defending Allies and attacking Axis sides were allowed to swap to adjacent cards to adjust the terrain to their advantage.

The tabletop is laid out and objectives decided. The Axis forces will advance from the top.

Axis forces lose both armoured car units to wear and tear dice rolls.

Allied forces fare slightly worse with wear and tear losing three units: a Stuart tank, a Crusader tank and one 25 pounder artillery unit.

The type of game was next diced for:
  • Both Allied and Axis forces would have a third of their units in reserve which can start arriving from turn 2 onwards on their base edge.
  • Axis forces have a flanking force of one-third of their total, which can arrive on turn 2 onwards on either flank, but all forces must arrive from one flank side.
  • Allied forces are taking an aggressive defence and can advance half their available tabletop forces anywhere providing it is not in range of Axis units.
Opening positions

Openning positions

A small combined force of the 15th Panzer division occupies a small escarpment. The advance positioning of Allied forces has them able to launch an armoured attack on the escarpment. This looked promising and resulted in Axis tank losses. Panzer reserves arrived quickly to bolster the position and anti-tank fire proved effective, driving the Allies back to their original position. An RAF sortie proved very effective destroying a tank unit and most importantly an 88mm gun unit. This dented any thoughts of a quick counterattack.

The initial Allied armoured attack

AT shooting drives off the Allied tanks and reserves begin to arrive.

Allied air sortie proves very destructive.

Facing strong opposition panzer flanking units begin to arrive, while Allied reserve units start to arrive to bolster their line. The flanking force was cautious while Allied units were repositioned to counter them.

The arrival of flanking armoured infantry

View of the tabletop

More flanking forces arrive

The mid-point of the game saw Allied tanks, now bolstered with reserve units, make another attack on the escarpment. Only to be driven off again be accurate AT shooting. This seemed to be a turning point in the game as the final panzer reserves arrived and a sortie by Stukas eliminated the sole Allied artillery unit.

Allied armour mount a second attack on the escarpment.

On the back of good AT shooting, Axis forces make a successful counterattack.

Axis forces quickly move forward.

Flanking forces push round the rear of the central escarpment and seal a victory.

While the flanking panzer force had not made any real inroads to the Allied central position, they had drawn away a few Allied units. On the back of driving off the second Allied tank attack with effective AT shooting, Axis forces were able to mount a successful counter attack which was able to sweep forward. Facing threats from both flanks now Allied forces concentrated around the centre escarpment position.

This allowed Axis forces to push forward to hold two of the three objectives giving them victory. This being their second victory of campaign turn 5, Axis forces will be able to advance their army one zone.

Saturday 13 June 2020

War of the Spanish Succession completed first phase

This week I finally was able to complete the first phase of my War of the Spanish Succession project. A total of 20 units, sufficient units for some One-Hour Wargames with each army has: 4 infantry, 2 cavalry, 2 artillery, and 2 dragoon units. 

I started the project at the end of April and have been completing about 3 units per week. Here are a few photos of the armies...

French Army
French Army

British and Dutch Army

A closer shot of the French army

French dragoons in the foreground

British artillery

Closer view of British and Dutch forces

While snipping away at these paper soldier units. I have been thinking about some rules and jotting down notes which I will be testing out over the next few weeks. In the meantime I have a WW2 Western Desert game to finish.

Currently on the tabletop

Tuesday 9 June 2020

War of the Spanish Succession project progress

This last weekend provided quite a bit of hobby time and I was able to finish off one dragoon unit and completed a second unit. Both dragoon units have mounted and dismounted troops.

One completed dragoon unit and one ready for basing.
This now means I have completed for each side: four infantry, two cavalry, and two dragoon units. Almost all the units required to play a couple of One Hour Wargame scenarios. Only the artillery are outstanding.

In between sessions of cutting and preparing the paper soldier units I have been reading through "Charge! Or how to play war games" and will be adding a few officers and sergeants to the units I have completed so far. Not that they will have any function in my games other than to improve the look of the units.

A photograph from Charge with all the officers and sergeants
Today I have completed two British artillery units and have started preparatory work on the French artillery.

British artillery

Saturday 6 June 2020

WW2 Western Desert turn 5 and game 1

Turn 5 of the Western Desert campaign has elements of the 21st Panzer division up against forces of the NZ infantry division with supporting infantry tanks. The order of battle can be found in the previous post, both sides were effected by air interdiction and the wear and tear of the desert. The 21st divisions workshops had been working hard and they arrived with a distinct numerical advantage.

Opening moves
I ended up playing this game twice. The first time was an absolute romp by panzer forces which as a game I found most unsatisfactory, and after the game tried to workout what had gone so horribly wrong. I had with the scant NZ division forces spread them across two objectives: the escarpment and the central hills. In the second game, which this battle report covers, I decided to concentrate most units in the central hills with two units behind the hills ready to stop any wide flanking moves, and possible move on the escarpment.

The game has 3 objectives: town, centre hills and escapement. 
Defending forces are concentrated on the central hills
The Axis forces moved swiftly forward to engage the defending forces around the hills, while armoured car and m/c units swept around the left flank. Initially the attack went well and cleared away some of the defenders from the hill, but a combination of slow moving Matilda tanks and artillery blunted the attack.

The slow moving Matildas blunt the attack of PzIIIs
While the Matilda tanks pushed forward and got the better of the PzIIIs. They were held at bay by an 88mm and artillery. While armoured cars on the left flank and armoured infantry on the right flank were able to capture the hills.

Allied armour was proving a handful.
88mm AT and artillery hold off Allied tanks. While their armoured infantry can be seen racing for the hills.
Axis forces are able to secure the centre hills
Finding the hills occupied behind them. The remaining Matilda tanks back tracked and made a finally but unsuccessful attack. This saw the end of the game and victory the Axis forces.

Axis forces finally control the hill.
The second game was much more enjoyable and a closer game and proves I need to think more about deployment of forces.